The other day, I had a haircut scheduled. That same day, I was also able to schedule my first COVID vaccination, after my haircut. Then, it happened. My barber texted to ask if I could delay my appointment, by 15 minutes, as she was running late. I should have rescheduled my haircut, but I was already two weeks past my typical haircut timing.
After reading that text, I was frustrated and angry, and wanted to share my frustration with my barber, when I saw her in person, but I did not. I took a breath and remembered some great words from a wise priest friend of mine: “Compassion over rules.” The rule here is that you don’t change appointments with clients at the last minute.
When I arrived at the appointment, the barber apologized for the change and shared that she was dealing with a medical issue with a family member that caused her to be late.
This exchange with my barber reminded me that we have no idea what people are dealing with before we meet them. Everyone’s life is full and complicated, and when we meet them, they are bringing all those previous experiences with them.
We have all had similar encounters with customer service people. The exchange did not go as well as it should have, and we are frustrated, mad, irritated or disappointed in how we were treated.
Jesus was compassionate. Do you remember his exchange with the woman at the well?
Jesus approached the woman and asked for a glass of water. He could tell she was a Samaritan woman. The rule was that a Jew should not talk to a Samaritan, because the Jews, at the time, despised Samaritans, but he did anyway.
Even the woman recognized the problem with this exchange when she said, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” The exchange between these two goes on for many verses until the Samaritan woman finally recognizes Jesus as the Messiah.
Jesus showed this woman, who was a known sinner and a foreigner to him, great compassion.
How can we show this same compassion to people in our communities, neighborhoods or workplaces who are different from us? Showing compassion to others, especially those who have no ability to reciprocate, is what Jesus modeled in this Scripture story.
Showing compassion to people we love is normally pretty easy, but showing compassion to those who are different from us can be harder. Jesus modeled the correct action. He spent time with the Samaritan woman and got to know her story. He broke the cultural rule with great compassion.
How can you and I show compassion with those from other cultures? This world needs compassion demonstrated more than ever before, and we all need to recognize our role in healing this broken world, just like Jesus healed the Samaritan woman.
Mark Nuehring is the director of Faith Formation at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. "From the Pulpit" runs on the Saturday faith pages and features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, contact Life Editor Meredith Williams at 701-429-1749 or firstname.lastname@example.org.